Happy new year!! Can I still say that? Sooo this is my second blog post. In 5 months. This is really going well.
The last few months have been…interesting. I was thinking that 2019 hadn’t been that bad a year, and then December hit. December was interesting. I did a lot of thinking about my goals, and reevaluating areas of my life. I though a lot about habits and situations I am NOT taking into 2020. It just isn’t happening. Soz.
It was kinda harsh. It actually started feeling a bit too negative, until I remembered, meh, life is harsh. Also I started to pay attention to my positive achievements throughout last year. The areas that I wanted to grow further in. This being one of them!
I took a break from my sustainable fashion course over the Christmas period and now it’s back to work. A New year with a revitalised focus and working on my discipline.
Starting by dropping the facts (these are not alternative):
The fashion industry is currently the single most polluting industry in the world. More than air transport and the meat industry. In addition, approximately 50 million people around the world work in the fashion industry. But incredibly, over half of these workers make less than minimum wage (some suffering terrible conditions) while the fashion industry itself generates up to $3 trillion in revenue a year.
The impact of the industry is two fold. Firstly on our natural resources and planetary boundaries; but also on the most vulnerable people and countries around the globe. The high demand in the industry is what leads to the overuse of resources that are fast dwindling, and the mishandling of waste management. It is also what leads to a demand for more cheap workers. This contributes to poor labour conditions. We see it in the news all the time. Tragic factory fires and building collapses…and then we find out that those factories were supplying high street stores.
So. What do I do about this? What can I do about this? I’ve been having a lot of these thoughts recently.
I’m not entirely sure. I think I know a bit more about how the industry works. But the more you learn, the more you see the problems and complexities in a lot of the current solutions.
One thing that’s said is “just don’t buy fast fashion”. Or “stay away from all the cheap stores because they utilise cheap labour”. Better yet, “buy better quality clothes they last longer.”
Well, The fast fashion business model is premised on the fact that clothes are for temporary consumption so you buy more often. They roll out a new collection almost every day or week.
Better quality clothes are meant to last longer and you know everyone’s probably being paid a fair wage. It says made in Italy. No sweatshops there. Problem solved.
Well not exactly. Apparently it’s complicated. Made in Italy doesn’t mean made entirely in Italy. Who knew? Many companies who “make in Italy” will still source some parts from “cheap labour” countries.
The fast fashion business model affects everyone. To keep up with H&M and online stores, a lot of higher quality and luxury brands have gone from 2 seasons to 5-6 in a year. Which means they need to speed up the production process in order to meet demand, and is why your favourite quality staples (cough cough M&S) feel like shitter quality now. They have to cut corners somewhere!
(Side note: what’s also rarely talked about is the privilege that goes into saying “just buy better quality clothes”. What if you can’t afford it?? I Iive in London, I know. It’s hard out here. Trying to rub two pennies together to make a silk shirt is not happening.)
Are we really only meant to buy/source European made clothes? Fashion and textile companies do source from developing counties because those goods can be made cheaper. But a factor in making them cheaper is because a lot of developing markets benefit from preferential import rates into the UK market for Textiles & clothing. Those preferential rates are actually meant to encourage imports into the UK from developing countries i.e Bangladesh. This provides more choice for UK consumers and greater business opportunities for Bangladeshi producers. (The China model is a whole other issue that we won’t get into… but they don’t have preferential rates, before anyone asks.)
However, poor labour standards still needs to be tackled. There is a serious issue with labour conditions, (the recent fire in Bangladesh) but as a consumer I still want to support clothing imports from developing countries that aid in employment prospects around the globe. What I’m trying to figure out is how to do that without supporting the exploitation of workers. And this means I probably need to be more aware of manufacturing practices of stores I buy from. Aghhh that’s so hard.
Following the ethical fashion trend, some stores are trying to be a bit more transparent about their manufacturing chains. Just a tiny bit.
It’s a nice start from high street stores. Although this hasn’t stopped the conveyor belt of clothes constantly being produced. A big issue is that although they are using/reusing sustainable fabrics (just a bit), the high demand still contributes to poor standards as this translates to demand placed on workers. The idea is tackling the first issue of natural resources, but not the human element. Quite a way from being truly sustainable.
Which leads me to new thoughts about changing habits. So I’m trying to do a culture change. New year, new habits. Hopefully. A big thing for me has been buying more second hand clothing. The next step ….is to consume less. Contribute to less demand! gahhhh
Since the start of the year, I’ve been trying something new. – Which according to one friend of mine is ironic because it’s literally the anthesis of my personality. – I might have to agree.
I love clothes. Like love love. But I am not going to be buying new clothes. Maybe for 6 months, maybe for longer.
Obviously underwear is exempt. But yep no new clothes. If need be, I’m going to mend my clothes. And if I really need something, I will try and get it second hand first.
We will review after 6 months. This is going to be hard.